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Something old, something rented...Designer wedding gowns for rent

When it comes to weddings, much is tried and true. Traditions are important to almost every bride but with the costs of weddings ranging from $30,000 to $100,000, today's couples are more budget minded.

The biggest concern of most brides is not sacrificing the elegance of the wedding. Many couples today are consumer minded having to pay for part or their entire wedding due to changes in today's family life. These couples are planning to fit both their dream and their budget.

Some brides feel that the reception is most important since the culmination of the day's events lead to the catering hall. Some brides are cutting costs on photography, limousines and flowers. Another option now is to rent a gown.

Rent a bridal gown? Though some brides will shudder and some will say not me, brides should be wise to the benefits.

The most obvious benefit is the savings. A bridal gown can run from $500-$3,000. Bridal shops say a designer gown today averages from $3,000 to $5,000. Renting a gown can get a bride-to-be in a designer gown by such names as Vera Wang or Scassi for as little as a few hundred dollars. The average cost for a bridal gown rental is between $300-$400. The overall benefit is that renting a gown allows brides to wear gowns that would otherwise be off limits to them.

It's ideal to rent a gown for theme weddings since these gowns generally won't be suitable to pass down for the typical wedding. Another benefit to renting a gown is that often an entire bridal party can be rented out for less than a high end bridal gown alone. On top of that, often a rental shop will handle accessorization from shoes down to a pocket watch for the groom.

Renting a gown is also an excellent alternative for the second time around bride who does not want the expense of a gown but wants a special look for photographs. The first questions you are probably asking is "but who knows who wore that gown before me?"

When speaking to Nan of Antique Costume & Prop Rental of Port Jefferson, I was told that all of her gowns are either brand new or freshly dry-cleaned. When one of her gowns begins to look "tired" it is retired and put into her costume department. Nan also said that her gowns are available to the bride for inspection for seven days from the time of pick up. Should any problems arise they are handled by Nan's shop immediately as "we want the bride to be happy." The procedure at Antique Costume & Prop rental asks for a $100 deposit and allows for "fair wear and tear" says Nan.

For those interested in renting a gown it might take a fair amount of research. Start with the traditional search of bridal shops in the local yellow book. Though most advertisements will not mention a rental, you will have to ask each shop if they offer to rent a gown. One shop I spoke to lead to the salesclerk having to put the owner on who, after trying to sell me a $99 special, did admit that he did do rentals. You might want to try the Internet but a word of caution for brides: make sure you can go and see the gown. I would advise against renting sight unseen.

Once you have found a shop and a gown that you like, make sure you understand the shop's and your obligations. Do they ask that you clean the gown before its return? Is the gown's cleaning fee included in the rental? (Nan's rentals all include the cleaning fee). Will they allow for typical wear and tear or nit pick over the beverage stains? The rental of your bridal gown should be handled like any other detail of your wedding. Knowing the details before you commit to a gown and shop will ensure that your wedding day will be both affordable and a dream come true.

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